Traveling Dog Lady: 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's National Mutt Day

As the weather gets colder in some parts of the world, we take a "paws" and reflect on adopting our mutts, two of whom just happen to be littermates.

Our dogs, Charlie Brown and his littermate, Cooper, didn't come from a brick-and-mortar shelter.  They were transported to Massachusetts from Tennessee as nearly newborn puppies, along with their other six siblings and their mama dog, Kate, three days before Christmas in 2011.  A wonderful organization, Great Dog Rescue of New England, arranged for their rescue from a high-kill shelter in Tennessee.

The little family had been supposedly found in an abandoned house that was about to be torn down.  The now legendary story is that a worker was doing a final check on a house that was to be condemned and demolished.  As he was going around room-to-room, he heard a squeaking noise and discovered Kate and her pups in a closet.  He scooped them all up, and surrendered them to a shelter, thinking he was doing a good deed.  Unfortunately, as most of us in New England know, "shelters" in the deep south are almost certain to be so-called "high-kill" facilities.  The name shelter is definitely a misnomer in this case!

A pile of pups!

The paperwork we received for Charlie Brown, whom we adopted in January of 2012, said that he was born on 11-11-11!  Cool, right?  I saw Charlie Brown on Great Dog Rescue's Facebook page, and showed the picture to my significant other.  We had lost our beloved hound dog, Hector, very suddenly and shockingly only five months before, and were still reeling from the loss.  Neither of us was ready for another dog, nor was Hobie, our faithful Lab/Shepherd mix, then 12 years old.  But, we wanted to do something in Hector's honor, and we could afford to help a needy dog, so, the next thing you know, we were filling out an application.

Hector, my love

The sad news came back that someone had beat us to it, and Charlie Brown would not be ours.  We asked if any of the other littermates were available instead.  The answer was no, they had all been adopted. The agent casually mentioned that we should check back in about two weeks, just to be sure, as sometimes adoptions don't work out, for whatever reason.

Our busy lives went on.  We enjoyed our time with Hobie as the lone dog, and our three cats.  We missed Hector like crazy.

One morning, I decided to just check in with the rescue agent as she had suggested, thinking nothing would come of it.  To my surprise, she said she was just about to call me, that Charlie Brown's adoption had fallen through, and he was still looking for a home!  Then ensued a home visit to check us out, a questionnaire about our work schedules and so forth, and a trip up to the New Hampshire border, where Charlie was living with his foster mom.
I adopted Charlie Brown almost sight-unseen.  I had no intention of saying no, even though I was given the opportunity.  I spent maybe 15 minutes with him and the foster family's other pets, signed the papers, put him in the car, and made the long trek back home.

Charlie Brown, same car as Hector's pic, above!

The first night, Charlie slipped through the one, and only, hole in the fence, and was trotting around the front yard; ate a piece of rusty metal; and vomited it all up on the leather furniture.  I thought, "Now, I've done it.  He has been poisoned, is going to die, and I will be banished from ever adopting another pet from a shelter or rescue!"  I slept on the couch, with Charlie Brown on my tummy all night.  The next day, he was fine.  For the next several months, this dog challenged me at every turn.  I've had dogs all my life, but this one has been my biggest challenge so far.  Things were about to get even more interesting....

We had Charlie Brown just seven months, when I received an email from the foster mom and rescue agency.  The email was also sent to all of the other people who had adopted the puppies from the litter dubbed "Kate Plus Eight".

The runt of the litter, originally named mini-Cooper, and then known as "Fluff", was being returned to the rescue agency.  He had sustained an inoperable injury to his right, front leg, which would require amputation.  Did any of us want to adopt a brother?

Coop when he had 4 legs, just prior to amputation

Not considering that option for a moment, I re-wrote the email in my own words and broadcast it to my friends by email, Facebook and Twitter.  The number of individuals who wrote back to me and said "YOU must adopt him!" was astonishing.  People who knew me, but did not know each other, were all replying with the same response.  I casually mentioned this to my partner, who was already concerned about the stress I was under raising Mr. Pack Leader (Charlie Brown)!!  "Can you imagine if there were TWO of these?", he asked, and pointed to Charlie who was bouncing around in his early-morning shenanigans.  I laughed.  I had never lived with more than two dogs at a time before.  I would be crazy to do this, right?

Knowing that I was, indeed, crazy, a few days later, I filled out the application to adopt "Fluff", whose name had already been changed back to Cooper.  His original adoptive family had named him Fluff because their other dog is named Peanut Butter.  Peanut butter and marshmallow "Fluff" is a popular sandwich here in New England where Marshmallow Fluff was invented and is still produced to this day.  The sandwich is called Fluffernutter!  The family were unable to afford the medical expenses necessary to either treat, or amputate, Cooper's leg which sustained an injury mysteriously, as no one has ever been sure exactly what happened.  Because the injury had been sustained some weeks prior, and he had been confined to a crate in a well-meaning attempt at rehabilitation, the leg could, unfortunately, not be saved.  We were not the owners of record, nor was the original family -- Great Dog Rescue owned Cooper, and they made the (right) decision to go for amputation.  Experimental surgery was an additional, non-guaranteed, and expensive option.  As the vet so eloquently put it, "I wouldn't put my own dog through that."  The amputation was scheduled, and we donated some of the money to rescue to help pay for the surgery.

And a few weeks later, with the scars still showing, but he's happy

Cooper, who was with his foster mom during surgery and recovery, bounced back from surgery within a day or two.  The most difficult part was keeping this young puppy from jumping around too much while healing.  The first thing he did when he got back to their home was jump up on the humans' bed!

Cooper stayed with the foster family for about two weeks, until his stitches were removed and he was fully recovered from surgery.  We had visited him before the amputation, and brought Charlie with us to be sure they still got along (they are thick as thieves).  I later learned that Charlie and Cooper were the last two remaining dogs to be adopted out the first time -- even their mother, Kate, was adopted out before them.  So, they were more or less a bonded pair.  I often think it took all of this for them to find their way back to each other.

I brought Cooper home in late August of 2012, almost exactly one year to the day from the day Hector died so suddenly a year before.  There often are times that Cooper reminds me so much of Hector.  His demeanor, his cuddliness, his gentle presence in the room.  He even sits in the same favorite spots as Hector did.  If you believe in reincarnation, you might think maybe Cooper is Hector, reincarnated.  Sometimes, I like to think so.

Cooper is an amazing creature.  He does not appear to be "disabled" in any way, shape or form.  He can often run circles around his brother, quite literally.  He jumps into and out of the car, and onto and off furniture, like a champ.  He likes to run on the beach.  People who meet him for the first time usually don't notice his missing leg for several minutes.  He has an active and full life.  He adores his "uncle" Hobie, now almost 15, and all of the cats.

As we surpass the boys' third birthday, they really have turned out to be "great dogs"!  We have stayed in touch with the Great Dog Rescue volunteers, our foster mom, and most of the other adoptive pet-parents of Kate and her babies.  We got together on November 11th for the past three years (which just so happens to be a holiday!) with some of the other pet parents to celebrate the kids' birthdays on the beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

First birthday, 11-11-12

Second birthday, 11-11-13

Third birthday, 11-11-14

Earlier this year, yet another of the boys' siblings was returned to rescue due to the medical situation of one of his adoptive parents.  I thought about adopting Franklin for about five minutes.  Somebody beat us to it.


(Originally written by me in October, 2014 for DoggyLoot's blog to recognize "Adopt A Shelter Dog Month", but never published.  All original material. This  is my intellectual property.)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Puppies' 3rd birthday photos #WordlessWednesday

 We had a great time at our third annual puppy birthday reunion in Gloucester, Mass. last weekend!  The "Kate Plus Eight" litter all reunited, except for three who live too far away or were otherwise engaged.  We missed Simon, Ralphie and of course, Charlie's exact twin, Copper (not to be confused with Cooper!).  The remaining five siblings got together, and we even met Franklin for the first time!  Mama dog Kate was there, and of course foster-sister Bella and step-sister Tina!  Oh yeah, and all those humans.

Merci beaucoup to my friend Myriam who took some fantastic photos!  (Click on the individual photos to make them HUGE!)

All 5 siblings are in this picture - Franklin (black dog); Molly (way in the back); Tess (with ball); Cooper and Charlie.
I can't tell them apart!  That's Tess!
As always, Cooper had to claim the ball immediately upon arrival!
Sister Tess is saying, "Hey! Gimme back my ball!"
"I'll just go over HERE with it, instead!"

The elusive Molly!  She couldn't resist meeting the little puppy and that's how we got a picture!

Beautiful mama-dog, Kate, pretty in pink!

Charlie Brown and mama Kate have the same profile.

We finally met brother Franklin!  Yes, he is from the same litter!

Beautiful foster-sister (or "aunt") Bella!!

Coop very happy with his ball on the beach!

Step-sister, Tina, is the only one who swims!

Can't get enough of Cooper and his ball!!  Three legs on all those rocks!

Charlie Brown happy to be on the beach.

Charlie begging from foster mom, Kathy N.

Gorgeous sister, Tess finally got her ball back.  You have to look several times to be able to tell the dogs apart.

Franklin is literally the black sheep of the family, but as tall as his brothers and has the same facial features.

Mama Kate and foster mom Kathy - the two responsible for all this!


Tess ... who's who???

Beautiful Bella!!!

Kathy with Bella, Franklin and camera-shy sister Molly down in front sticking out her tongue!

Charlie Brown wants in on the action!

Gorgeous mama Kate!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Caring for Ctitters - Life on 3 legs

As mentioned in my most recent post, we are pleased and honored to participate in the Caring for Critters Round Robin, hosted by Jodi at Heart Like A Dog. How it works is, each participating blogger writes about their own experience with a medical condition, injury, disease or illness.  Then, the blogger "passes the baton" to the next, sort of like a relay race in words, online!  Yesterday, Sue Oakes at The Golden Life told us about her pack's digestive issues and how each one presented its own challenge before they were able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.   I'll be passing the baton to Kelsie at It's Dog Or Nothing (don't you love that name!?  Actually, I love all the names of the various blogs involved.  A lot of clever critters out there in the blogosphere!).  

Today, I'll be writing about our personal experience with amputation of a pet's limb due to injury.  In short, it's not so bad!

Our dog, Cooper, wasn't part of our family when he injured, and subsequently lost, his right, front limb.  He's the littermate of Charlie Brown, whom we adopted first.  Cooper was with his original adopters when, at about eight months of age, he somehow injured his right, front leg.  We do not know how he sustained the injury -- that information was either unknown, or withheld, but it appeared to have been a crush injury that could not be successfully repaired. Unable to afford the expense of the medical care, the well-meaning family confined the puppy to a crate for several weeks,  and eventually returned him to rescue when it became clear that the scope and expense of the medical concerns for Cooper would be out of their reach.  That's where we came in!  Rescue sent out an "APB" to all the other littermates' parents asking if anyone wanted a brother with a messed up leg. Of course, we got all wrapped up in the drama, and several friends suggested I'd be nuts if I didn't adopt him (and equally nuts if I DID!).   True to form, and always up for a challenge, we chose the former.

Cooper, with four legs; pre-amputation.

It was not to be our decision whether to attempt repair, or amputate.  That would be up to rescue, who was the owner of record of the dog at the time, because the family had surrendered him back to the rescue agency.  After extensive testing and opinions, it was decided that the only repair possible would have been "experimental" and ill-advised. To use the vet's own words, "I wouldn't put my own dog through that."

Even though we had known other tripawd pets, and knew they were able to get around just fine, we didn't want this very young dog (now 10 months old) to have to go through amputation and living on three legs for the rest of his life.  But, like I said, it wasn't our decision.  The surgery was planned, and a donation campaign began.  We donated a portion toward the cost ourselves, thus reducing the eventual adoption fee we paid in the end. The surgery was performed in mid-August, after all the donations had come in, and about two weeks later, Cooper came home to live with us.  I had gone to meet him, with his brother, Charlie, when Cooper still had four legs (one useless and dragging around on the floor); and then met him again after surgery.  

A pile of puppies... Charlie in the middle, on the left (with slightly darker markings)
and Cooper (the so-called runt of the litter) on top of everyone!

The treatment was basically quite simple.  Amputate the leg, rest, recover, enjoy the rest of your life. And that is pretty much how it went.  Cooper lived with his original foster mom during the 10-day recovery phase.  We humans were all worried about the amputation, and foster mom was able to observe him in the recovery room using a web-cam that the vet had set up!  She shared still photos with us by email and Facebook.  Cooper did astonishingly well that first night, and then went home to the foster house, where he promptly jumped up on the bed with his canine foster sister!  The worst part was trying to keep this puppy inactive so the stitches did not get disturbed.  After all, he had been dragging around a useless leg for such a long time, it was probably a relief to be rid of it, in his mind.

Cooper was on Tramadol for about a month, and the wound healed nicely and there is now no sign that anything happened.  In fact, it takes most new people a few minutes (sometimes longer) to realize that he has a missing leg!  He was not tired, lethargic or sad.  There was no change in his spirit or even his activity level.  He simply moved on with his life and didn't look back.  Cooper truly lives in the moment.  He can chase a ball just as fast as his brother, sometimes faster.  He jumps onto and down from the bed, furniture, picnic tables (his favorite) and is Chief Counter Surfer.  He can jump into my car if the driver's side window is all the way down, from a seated position on the ground -- like a cat!  When we go to our birthday reunion parties on the beach in Gloucester, Mass. he runs so much I have to put a leash on him to make him take a rest.  He tends to "slam" the remaining left leg a little too much.  That being said, he is all muscle, and loves to chase his brother around the back yard at super-high-speed!

Cooper in the car.  "Let's go, Mom!"

Taking a break on Good Harbor Beach, with his sister's tennis ball!

If I had to make the choice whether or not to amputate on another pet, I am not sure we would do it again.  It depends on the situation, type of injury (cancer is the main reason dogs have legs amputated, not injury).  Shortly after Cooper's amputation, people began developing prostheses for canines.  Cooper cannot have a prosthetic limb because there is no remaining bone to attach it to.  If we had to do it all again, I would consider leaving some bone available to utilize a prosthetic.  But honestly, the worry about his spirit being broken, and his activity level being compromised was just human b.s. worry, and nothing more.  It was all for nothing.  If you are ever faced with the conundrum of amputating a pet's limb, just remember, take it from Cooper, it's not so bad.

Be sure to check out ALL of the Caring For Critters posts, here!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Returning from a blogging and social media break (sort of)

We are back!!  Sort of.

I wanted to share that I'll be taking part (later this month) in the Caring for Critters Round Robin, which is sort of like a blog hop except folks can't just hop on and post -- it's an assigned thing.  Our post will be live on Sept 28th, so mark your calendars!  The Round Robin is hosted by Jodi and her pups, Sampson and Delilah of Heart Like a Dog.

We took a month or so off from blogging and social media due to some family medical issues of both the human and canine kind.  I promised I would keep the the human stuff private, so you won't hear about that here. This is the dog and cat blog, anyway!

Our dear senior pup, Hobie, has been having health issues, on-and-off, all year.  There were at least four times this summer when I thought we were going to lose him, but he recovers miraculously and this week was no exception.  After bringing him to the vet two days ago, when he seemed to be on death's door, we awoke this morning with a rather energetic Hobie on our hands.  Just now, he wanted to go down the big stairs into the back yard (he went UP them this morning for the first time in weeks).  I decided not to allow him to go down.  It's a bit too much, too fast, after weeks of him being unable to maneuver just ONE step, let alone 13.  It's nice to see him "chipper" for a change, and now I am starting to wonder if the pain meds we've been giving him for a year were causing his ongoing issues in some part. His kidney tests came back normal yesterday, but he is a tad anemic. We have him on anti-nausea meds for the weekend, and then we'll have the vet run more tests next week to try to determine what may be causing the anemia and constant bouts of vomiting every two weeks or so.

Hobie resting after going to the vet this week.

During this month, we've had lots of doctor appointments to go to, and big schedule changes regarding work and other things.  I did manage to get to the Tori Amos concert, which was so meaningful to me and I'm grateful for the four or five people who helped me out at home so that I could attend the show.  It meant the world to me.

Good seat, bad picture!

The cats have been a source of steadiness, comfort and delight through all of this.  They are the ever-present "anchor" of the household.

Cali on the roof of the car
Newman and Tux holding down the fort.

Other than that, I brought Charlie, just last weekend, to Pet Rock, which is a music festival for pet-related non-profits in our area.  It's been going on for 16 years, and they do a great job, it's a lot of fun for the dogs that is for sure.  I was so afraid Reactive Charlie would cause trouble, but he was amazingly well-behaved, and in fact he was one of the BETTER-behaved dogs at the event, overall!! At PetRock we saw our friends from Great Dane Rescue, Paws 4 a Cure and our human neighbor, who happens to be named.... Charlie! -- with his no-longer-nervous Newfoundland!  We may attend another event tomorrow, hosted by Second Chance Animal Shelter, if we're not too tired.  Two years ago at the same Second Chance event, I wrecked my shoulder walking Charlie, so I'm a bit hesitant ... but we shall see.

Charlie Brown at PetRock Festival
Feeling empowered, a few days later, I brought Cooper to PetSmart for the first time, ever.  Again, I thought Mr. Reactive Dog would be the one to cause trouble inside the store.  But nope! I was pleasantly surprised by my wonderful hound again!!  He was the perfect gentleman, and in fact it was ANOTHER dog that got all up in his face and started trouble!  Aside from Cooper nearly breaking my finger with his collar and leash in his enthusiasm to get inside the store, it was a great experience, and I'm going to bring him to the pet stores with me more often.

Cooper in the car after we went into PetSmart.
Good dog!

Our topsy-turvy schedule will continue for quite some time, so I will probably only be blogging occasionally -- probably on weekends and for special assignments such as the Round Robin mentioned above, DoggyLoot, and a few others.

Until next time!  Keep meowing, woofing and wagging!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A week of anniversaries

Saturday marked two years since we adopted Cooper.  He's now a thriving member of our family, and can sometimes be a pain in the neck!  But we love him!

Today, August 26th, it's been five years since Newman (a.k.a. Hairball) joined our pack.  He was adopted three weeks after Tux and Cali because Newman had a flea infestation and the person who had the kittens wanted to be sure he was free of fleas before handing him over to us.  The three came from three different litters of motherless kittens, but we adopted them at the same time.  I named him Newman because, in the days prior to his coming to live with us, I kept referring to him as "The New Cat" or "The New Guy".  New Man just seemed to fit (in spite of the fact that Paul Newman, one of our favorite actors, had passed away about a year before, Newms was not named in memory of the actor and salad dressing king).  Gil dubbed Newman "Hairball" because his original family had shaved the long-haired cat to get rid of the fleas, but left a "ball" of long fur at the top of his tail as a little joke.  The nickname stuck, and today we use the names Newman and Hairball interchangeably!

Poor Newms with a close shave and poofy tail!

The gorgeous guy today!

And last, but certainly not least, we observe the three year mark since we lost our beloved hound dog extraordinaire, Hector, this Thursday, the 28th.  I have written so much about Hector in the years since he died, I don't really have much more to say, except that we both miss him every single day, even though we've got our hands full of canine and feline love around here with our other pets.  There was nobody else like Hector, and there never will be.  

Love hold my hand
Help me see you with the dawn
That those that have left
Are not gone

But they carry on
As stars looking down
As nature’s sons
And daughters of the heavens

You will not ever be forgotten by me
In the procession of the mighty stars
Your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart
Here I will carry, carry, carry you forever

You have touched my life
So that now
Cathedrals of sound are singing, are singing
The waves have come to walk with you
To where you will live in the land of you,
Land of you

You will not ever be forgotten by me
In the procession of the mighty stars
Your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart
Here I will carry, carry, carry you
Here I will carry, carry, carry you forever.

"Carry" by Tori Amos

Please note: k2k9 will be taking a short break from blogging and social media between now and the September 8th.  There may be intermittent posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but don't count on it :)!

See you in September!